UAE lifts ban on transit flights from Nigeria, India, Pakistan, others

From Thursday August 5th, 2021, travellers from Nigeria who wish to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via a third country can now do as the UAE has finally decided to lift the on-transit flights from Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

Although, direct flights ban to UAE from Nigeria is still in place, this would however bring relief to many Nigerians who had been deprived from visiting Dubai and other cities in the UAE due to the face-off between the Arabian nation and Nigeria over modalities for COVID-19 testing which has led to a spat between both nations.

The National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) made the disclosure of the lifting of the transit flight ban imposed by UAE in some countries including Nigeria on Tuesday in a post via their Twitter handle.

NCEMA said that passengers travelling from countries where flights had been banned would be able to transit through its airports from August 5 [Thursday] as long as they present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to departure.

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UAE, a major international travel hub, had barred passengers from many South Asian and African states from travelling through its airports this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Final destination approval would also have to be provided, the authority said, adding that UAE departure airports would arrange separate lounges for transiting passengers. The transit ban had also included Nepal, Uganda, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

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The UAE may have clandestinely killed competition as the country effectively shut transit flights from Nigeria to Dubai. Shortly after that, UAE stopped direct flights originating from Nigeria.

Experts had in the wake of ban on transit passengers from Nigeria alleged that the action effectively weakened competition from other airlines to Dubai as many Nigerians who booked flights to Dubai through Addis Ababa, Cairo, Kigali and other European destinations were caught in the web of the policy that intended to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East nation.

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The situation led to an astronomical rise in air fares from Lagos or Abuja to Dubai as other carriers like Egypt Air in a memo to its trade partners said, “Sequence to the memo we received from Dubai Airport Authority asking all Nigerian travelers coming to Dubai to fly directly effective February 1, 2021”.

“In view of this we therefore request you to kindly notify our esteemed passengers that Egypt Air will not lift passengers from Nigeria to Dubai from January 31 until further notice. You are hereby advised to check and cancel all your bookings and inform your passengers of this new development.

“We are in view of the above expressly authorising full refund for those who want to make refund and seek for alternative or tickets will be opened for future flights for passengers needing to keep their  tickets”, the airline added.

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The UAE in a travel advisory tagged: “Dubai Travel Protocol Update-Travel from Nigeria”, made available to Aviation Metric in February, stated that all departing Nigeria to Dubai are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate, adding that the PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.

President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Suzan Akporaiye said while the transit ban lasted, many passengers suffered.

“I don’t think it was right to take such decisions which I believe are totally uncalled for. It is not done in the good spirit of sportsmanship. Dubai is like home to Nigerians. They introduced a second antigen or rapid test; they should have left it at that”, she stated.

Wole Shadare